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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Natalie Pronio, our Youth Minister, is currently in Poland attending World Youth Day. The following is a letter written by Natalie on Monday, July 25, describing the first few days of her trip.

Our Lady of Czestochowa – Queen of Poland

July 23 and 24 have been days of, simply put, sitting down. We sat in the bus, we sat at the airport, we sat on the plane. We began Saturday by meeting at the Harrisburg Diocese at 11:00 a.m. to check in and load up the buses. We ended our Sunday by unloading the buses and enjoying a meal together, and now, finally, resting.

The highlight of our journey so far was NOT the vegetarian sandwiches we were offered on our flight from Frankfurt to Warsaw, nor was it the uncomfortable naps we took laying across tables and chairs at the airport. It was the visit to the Shrine of Jasna Gora, a monastery that houses the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which we visited today.

The history of Our Lady of Czestochowa is steeped in both tradition and legend. This miraculous image of Our Lady is said to have been painted by one of the apostles sometime after the crucifixion of Jesus. This icon was a source of strength and hope for so many, both in times of peace and of struggle, and survived multiple attacks and threats to destroy it.

When we walked into the Chapel that houses the icon, I was immediately overcome with a feeling of complete peace. The Chapel was filled with pilgrims, speaking all different languages, but honoring the same Mother of God, and praying for her powerful intercession. The miracles credited to Our Lady of Czestochowa are countless and spectacular, examples of which can be seen by the walls holding crutches, braces and other items no longer needed by those healed through her intercession.

When I saw the wall signifying answered prayers for healing, I was overwhelmed with emotion, and my mind turned to my Uncle Patrick who suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke in January. Given a less than five percent chance to survive, he is a miracle himself, relearning how to do things that you and I take for granted, and fighting hard to regain strength in his now-immobilized right side. I noticed that each of the styles of crutches and braces spans not just differences in health care in countries across the globe, but also throughout the centuries.

I knelt in prayer amidst pilgrims walking around, their many  whispered languages blending into one hushed wind. My prayer then, was for everyone in need of healing, and my hope now is that one day, the braces currently used to hold my uncle’s limp arm and leg could someday be added to that beautiful wall of miracles.

We enjoyed a beautiful celebration of the Mass, in the Chapel of Jasna Gora, with pilgrims from the Dioceses of Erie and San Diego, and from other countries, and celebrated by the wonderful priests who are travelling with us. It was such an amazing experience to be at Mass said in English, yet answered in many tongues. What a wonderful example of how we truly are a Universal Church!

 

In the Spring of 1988, Bishop William D. Keeler formed a new parish to accommodate the rapid growth in Silver Spring Township and named Reverend James R. O’Brien as the founding pastor. That same year, Mother Katharine Drexel was beatified by Pope John Paul, II. Saint Katharine DrexelAt Bishop Keeler’s request, the Holy Father gave his permission to name the Parish in Silver Spring Township as the first parish in the world to be named in her honor. Eighteen years later, on October 1, 2000, Blessed Katharine Drexel was canonized and the church’s name changed to Saint Katharine Drexel.

The Saint Katharine Drexel Parish Family, guided by the Holy Spirit, commits itself to reaching out and sharing with all people the love and service modeled by our patroness, with the Eucharist as our source of strength. Through prayer and action, we will serve God, our Lord and Savior, and our community, exhibiting a special concern for the poor, oppressed and marginalized of our society, especially those among the African-American & Native-American peoples.

 

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